How Does Music Reach the Brain during Surgery

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  When patients have surgery today, music CAN come to them in one of several different ways.  Sometimes there is ambient music in the operating room.  Oftentimes, the surgeon has speakers set up that are playing HIS or HER favorite music.  That’s great for the surgeon, but the music that the surgeon needs is often the opposite from what the patient needs. The surgeon wants rhythmic, upbeat music that will keep his energy up and his focus sharp!  The patient needs music that is slow, soothing and steady.  Even under general anesthesia, the heart and breathing will entrain or synchronize with the pulse of the music. 

When the patient listens to music of this type, he can have all the benefits of less anesthesia, less anxiety medication and less pain medication.  The less medication and anesthesia that the patient requires, the faster and safer the recovery will be.  When the patient listens through headphones, the surgeon’s music is blocked, or at least muffled greatly.  Also, conversations in the OR that the patient doesn’t need to hear will be blocked.  Patients often report that they heard conversations between nurses and doctors that were upsetting in one way or another.

A third choice in some hospitals is actual live music, administered by a music therapist.  I think this would be fantastic because clearly the music would be geared toward the patient.  I’m not sure how practical this is in a large busy hospital where the 20 operating rooms are busy all day long.  MY choice would be the headphones and the only place that carries them right now is www.SurgicalHeadphones.com.  Check them out and let me know what you think.  They can be used for years after the surgery and you can add more music or delete any and all of it and create your own playlist.  Not only that, but you can download the music from the website onto your own iPod or MP3 player.  Pretty cool!!

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